Feb 17, 2021 - News
Kum & Go CEO Tanner Krause wants to normalize mental health in 2021
Photo courtesy Kum & Go

For Kum & Go CEO Tanner Krause, 2020 was "the hardest year of [his] life," with incredible hardships both personally and professionally.

Why it matters: Krause told Linh that he wants to use his own research and experiences with mental health to make employee well-being a top priority for his 5,000-person organization.

The backdrop: Four people were shot and killed at a Kum & Go in Springfield, Mo., on March 15 — the worst tragedy to happen in the company's 61-year history.

  • The event rattled Krause and his perception of the world, and just two days later, Iowa announced statewide shutdowns due to COVID-19.
  • "It was really, really hard, and I've never felt that level of depression before," he said. "Just trying to show up for everyone else in my life was difficult."

What happened: Krause had sought out weekly appointments with a West Des Moines therapist in 2019 after a succession of life changes. That decision helped him process 2020's challenges — and he still attends therapy today.

  • "I don't know how I would have done without that kind of support," he said.

The state of play: Krause is using his own experience to make policy changes to help support the mental health of Kum & Go employees, including:

  • Extending full-time employment to 2,000 part-time workers.
  • Giving PTO and paid bereavement to all employees.
  • Requiring higher-ups to educate themselves on workplace environment. (They're currently reading "The Fearless Organization" by Amy Edmonson.)

The results: Kum & Go is experiencing the highest employee-retention in its history, according to Krause.

The bottom line, per Krause: "I hope that we can continue to have these conversations, and that people are motivated to seek professional help and understand that it's not just for people with extreme disorders."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that last year's shooting at a Kum & Go took place in Springfield, Missouri (not Illinois).

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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